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Today’s blog post features a frequently banned or challenged book that is, not coincidentally, also a classic in African-American fiction. The nameless narrator of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible man “describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of “the Brotherhood”, and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be. The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, Joyce, and Dostoevsky.” (Source: PenguinRandomHouse)
Retained in the Yakima, WA schools (1994) after a five-month dispute over what advanced high school students should read in the classroom. Two parents raised concerns about profanity and images of violence and sexuality in the book and requested that it be removed from the reading list. (source: ALA)
Today’s featured banned or challenged book is Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “To Kill a Mockingbird.” This one has a long history of challenges since its publication in 1961 and is still on the list of Top 10 Most Challenged Books for 2017.
It was most recently removed in 2009 from a school in Ontario, Canada because a parent objected to its use of the N-word. Other challenges were based on its profanity and because it ‘conflicted with the values of the community.” (Source: ALA)
The story takes place in a small Alabama town in the 1930s and is told predominately from the point of view of six-to-nine-year-old Jean Louise (“Scout”) Finch. She is the daughter of Atticus Finch, a white lawyer hired to defend Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman. A coming-of-age story of an intelligent, unconventional girl, To Kill a Mockingbird portrays Scout’s growing awareness of the hypocrisy and prejudice present in the adult world. (Source: Britannica)
Drama, by Raina Telgemeier is a graphic novel and is currently on the Top 10 list of the most challenged books for 2017. It was banned from the Franklin Educational District (Texas) in 2017. Why? This Stonewall Award winning 2012 graphic novel includes LGBT characters and was considered confusing. (Source: ALA)
Summary from Goodreads: “Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi, she can’t really sing. Instead she’s the set designer for the drama department stage crew, and this year she’s determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn’t know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen. And when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier!”
Another book featured in our Banned Books display is Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita,” This “immaculate and disturbing masterpiece, is the story of middle-aged Humbert Humbert and his tragic love affair with his 12-year-old, bubble-gum popping stepdaughter Dolores “Lolita” Haze. It’s a post-war road novel, the odyssey of a venerable European man and a prepubescent American girl bouncing across the United States, trying to outrun the past and find a future that doesn’t exist.” (Source: NPR)
The book was most recently challenged in 2006 at the Marion County Public Library in Ocala, Florida. The county commissioners in Marion Co. voted to have the county attorney review the novel to determine if it was unsuitable for minors. County commissioners voted 3-2 to keep the book on the shelves. (Source: Newsweek)
Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison. Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel Garcia Marquez. As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family’s origins, Morrison introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized black world. (Source: Goodreads)
“Reinstated in the Shelby, MI school Advanced Placement English curriculum (2009), but parents are to be informed in writing and at a meeting about the book’s content. Students not wanting to read the book can choose an alternative without academic penalty. The superintendent had suspended the book from the curriculum.” (Source: ALA)